Russian submarines launch cruise missile attacks as they hit Nato supply lines

Russian submarines launch cruise missile attacks as they hit Nato supply lines

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The Kremlin said it had fired two Kalibr cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from a submarine in the Black Sea and reiterated a warning that it would seek to hit shipments of Nato weapons to Ukraine.

The Russian defence ministry published video footage of the cruise missiles being launched from the Black Sea, and said they had hit unspecified ground targets in Ukraine.

Russia’s defence ministry added that it had bombed the power supplies of six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with Western-made weapons in the country’s east.

The claim has not yet been independently verified and the Kremlin did not state which Western-made weapons were supplied to Ukrainian forces via those stations.

Earlier today, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defence Minister, reiterated a warning that Moscow would seek to destroy convoys of arms shipments to Ukraine from Western countries.

“We view any transport of Nato arriving on the territory of the country with weapons or materials destined to the Ukrainian army as a target to be destroyed,” Mr Shoigu told a conference of defence ministry officials.​​

Follow the latest updates below.

05:54 PM

Russian troops have entered Azovstal plant, top Ukrainian lawmaker says

Russian forces have entered the territory of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelplant, Ukraine’s ruling parliamentary faction head David Arakhamia said this evening.

“Attempts to storm the plant continue for the second day. Russian troops are already on the territory of Azovstal,” Radio Free Europe reported Mr Arakhamia as saying.

05:34 PM

Russia-Israel row intensifies, as Moscow suggests Israeli mercenaries are fighting for Ukraine

Russia on Wednesday further alienated itself from a one-time ally, as Moscow suggested Israeli mercenaries were fighting alongside “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva.

A row between Russia and Israel broke out at the start of this week over Moscow’s continued claim that it is seeking to “de-Nazify” its neighbour through the invasion.

Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, claimed in an interview that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish roots”, as he tried to explain why Moscow keeps describing the Ukrainian leadership as “Nazi” despite Volodymyr Zelensky being Jewish.

Adding fuel to the fire, Maria Zakharova, the foreign ministry’s spokeswoman, on Wednesday claimed that “Israeli mercenaries, too, are fighting practically shoulder-to-shoulder with Azov militants” in Ukraine.

Russia considers the Azov battalion, which is defending Mariupol and has had far-right links, as a neo-Nazi group.

Read the full story here.

05:18 PM

Pictured: Smoke rises above an oil storage unit in Donetsk

Smoke rises above an oil storage in Donetsk – ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO /REUTERS

04:54 PM

Ukraine loses contact with Azovstal defenders

Ukraine has lost contact with soldiers defending Mariupol’s stronghold of Azovstal amid reports of Russian troops trying to storm the last pocket of resistance in south-eastern Ukraine, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva.

“Unfortunately, we have lost touch with the guys and we can’t know if they are safe or not,” Vadym Boichenko, Mariupol’s mayor, said on Ukrainian TV on Wednesday.

Newspaper Ukrainska Pravda quoted unnamed security forces saying that Russian troops have stormed the steelworks, which has withstood days of heavy shelling and artillery strikes, and are now fighting inside the sprawling plant.

In drone footage filmed by Moscow-backed eastern Ukrainian separatists, the factory was seen being pounded by what appears to be thermobaric bombs.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian soldiers were “safely blocked” inside the plant.

Read the full story here.

04:41 PM

Biden says G7 leaders will discuss further sanctions on Russia

US President Joe Biden said he would speak with other leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies this week about potential additional sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

“With regard to additional sanctions, we’re always open to additional sanctions,” Mr Biden told reporters.

“I’ll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we’re going to do or not do.”

04:30 PM

EU plans to block Russians from buying European real estate

The EU has added a ban on property transactions with Russian nationals to its sixth package of sanctions designed to raise pressure on Vladimir Putin.

The European Commission’s proposal would halt property deals with Russian citizens, residents and entities — prohibiting the sale or transfer, directly or indirectly, of “ownership rights in immovable property located within the territory of the Union or units in collective investment undertakings providing exposure to such immovable property,” according to legal text seen by Bloomberg.

04:09 PM

Pictured: A destroyed house and car in Irpin

Oleksiy Sokolyuk, 50, recounts how his house was destroyed by shelling, the first on March 5, and the second on March 17, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin,  - ZOHRA BENSEMRA /REUTERS 

Oleksiy Sokolyuk, 50, recounts how his house was destroyed by shelling, the first on March 5, and the second on March 17, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, – ZOHRA BENSEMRA /REUTERS

03:41 PM

Netherlands assessing whether to supply more heavy weapons to Ukraine

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Netherlands is assessing whether it can join other countries including Germany, Belgium and the UK in supplying more heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Mr Rutte made the comments after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which he praised Ukraine’s steadfastness in the battle against Russia for the Donbas region.

“The Netherlands will continue to support Ukraine’s fight to defend democracy and sovereignty, in the short and long term,” Mr Rutte wrote on Twitter.

03:26 PM

Tolstoy’s great-great-grandson boasts of his ancestor ‘slaughtering’ troops in Crimea

Pyotr Tolstoy, a politician and descendant of the War and Peace novelist, praised the Ukraine war and repeated calls for ‘de-Nazification’, reports Nick Squires.

A Russian politician who is a descendant of the novelist Leo Tolstoy has boasted of how his great-great-grandfather “slaughtered” British and French troops in the Crimea in the 19th century, whilst insisting that Moscow will not end its war in Ukraine until it has reached the Polish border.

Pyotr Tolstoy, who is the deputy chairman of the Duma, the Russian parliament, made the bellicose claim about occupying the whole of Ukraine despite the Russian army’s abject failure to take Kyiv in the first few days of the war, its logistical problems, its low morale and its difficulties in the eastern Donbas region.

An MP from the United Russia party, a former television presenter and a propagandist for Vladimir Putin, Pyotr Tolstoy said: “Notwithstanding the help coming from Europe and the hysteria of Boris Johnson or Mario Draghi [Italy’s prime minister], we will finish the operation when we judge it to be opportune.

“I think we will stop when we reach the border with Poland.”

Read the full story here.

03:08 PM

Kyiv: EU countries blocking oil embargo ‘complicit’ in Russian ‘crimes’

Ukraine said that EU countries blocking an embargo on imports of Russian oil would be complicit in crimes committed by Russian troops on Ukrainian territory by funding Moscow’s military.

“If there is any country in Europe who will continue to oppose the embargo on Russian oil, there will be good reason to say, this country is complicit in the crimes committed by Russia in the territory of Ukraine,” Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a briefing on social media.

02:44 PM

EU targets Russian Patriarch Kirill in new round of proposed sanctions

The European Commission has proposed freezing the assets of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Patriarch has been added to a draft blacklist that already includes hundreds of military officers and businessmen close to the Kremlin whom the EU accuses of supporting the war in Ukraine, according to an EU diplomat.

The sanction, which would entail an asset freeze and a travel ban, needs the backing of EU states to be adopted.

EU diplomats are set to meet this week to discuss the sanction, which is part of a wider package proposed by the European Commission earlier on Wednesday including an oil embargo and restrictions on Russian banks.

02:21 PM

MoD issues Ukraine intelligence update

02:11 PM

Czech Republic in talks on EU oil embargo exemption

The Czech Republic will seek an exemption period to the European Union’s proposed embargo of Russian oil, gaining time for pipeline capacities to be increased, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said today.

“We are ready to support this decision (on sanctions including oil), given the Czech Republic will have some postponement until capacity is increased in oil pipelines which can deliver oil to the Czech Republic,” Mr Fiala said.

“We are trying to get that postponement for two, maybe three years.”

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a phased oil embargo on Russia, along with other tough measures to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The measures include phasing out supplies of Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

01:46 PM

Russia violates Finnish airspace as Helsinki mulls Nato

A Russian army helicopter violated Finland’s airspace on Wednesday, the Finnish defence ministry said, as the country mulls an increasingly likely Nato membership bid.

“The aircraft type is a Mi-17 helicopter and the depth of the suspected violation is about four to five kilometres”, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

The incident occurred on Wednesday at 10:40am local time.

This is the second Russian airspace violation this year, following a previous one in April, both of them coming in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

A civilian transport plane belonging to the Russian army briefly entered Finnish airspace on April 8.

01:27 PM

Ben Wallace: ‘Many parts of Europe’ need to wake up to fact Putin is an aggressor

“It’s about time many parts of Europe woke up to the fact that Putin is not a friend, he is an aggressor and he has spent a lot of time and money over the last decade or two undermining both our democratic principles through misinformation, funding extreme political parties, or military threats,” the Defence Secretary said.

“He is not a friend of Western Europe and it’s about time a lot of people realised that.”

01:14 PM

Keeping any Nato ratification period short is key to Finland

Finland, which is considering whether to apply for membership to the Nato alliance, said that keeping any transition period as short as possible would be important for its security, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said today.

“The key issue is to keep the ratification process as short as possible … That would be the best security guarantee,” Ms Marin told a joint news conference with her Nordic counterparts in the Danish capital.

01:10 PM

Ben Wallace: Sergei Lavrov ‘should go to military school’

The Defence Secretary said that Britain was supporting Ukraine “not to necessarily become a member of Nato but to have the freedom to choose what it wants to do.”

Mr Wallace suggested that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “should go to military school” as Russia is “currently being taken apart by cheap drones, poor leadership and equipment that doesn’t really work”.

01:03 PM

Russian Orthodox Church scolds Pope Francis after ‘Putin’s altar boy’ remark

The Russian Orthodox Church scolded Pope Francis for using the wrong tone after he urged Patriarch Kirill not to become the Kremlin’s “altar boy”, cautioning the Vatican that such remarks would hurt dialogue between the churches.

Francis told Italy’s Corriere Della Sera newspaper that Kirill, who has given the Ukraine war his backing, “cannot become Putin’s altar boy”.

The Russian Orthodox Church said it was regrettable that a month and a half after Francis and Kirill, the patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, had spoken directly, the pope had adopted such a tone.

“Pope Francis chose an incorrect tone to convey the content of this conversation,” the Moscow Patriarchy said, though it did not explicitly mention the “altar boy” comment.

“Such statements are unlikely to contribute to the establishment of a constructive dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which is especially necessary at the present time.”

12:50 PM

20 more civilian bodies found in Kyiv region

The bodies of another 20 civilians were found in the past 24 hours in the Kyiv region, raising the total number of bodies found there so far to 1,235.

Kyiv regional police chief Andriy Nebytov said the latest discoveries were found in Borodianka and surrounding villages, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Bucha, the town near Kyiv now synonymous with allegations of alleged Russian war crimes.

Others were found in the Vyshgorod area just north of the capital.

“A total of 1,235 bodies of civilians” have been found, he said in a video released by the interior ministry.

Of that number, “more than 800 bodies were examined by experts. Unfortunately, most of them are people who died from gunshots,” he added.

12:32 PM

Slovakia wants three year transition to EU Russian oil embargo

Slovakia wants a three year transition period for it to phase in the European Union’s proposed embargo on Russian oil, Economy Minister Richard Sulik said today.

Slovakia gets nearly all of its imported crude from Russia mainly via the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline, and it has joined Hungary, also highly reliant on Russian supplies, in seeking an exemption from oil embargo plans the bloc is working up.

The EU’s chief executive also proposed, as part of new measures, sanctions on Russia’s top bank and a ban on Russian broadcasters from European airwaves.

The European Commission’s measures see phasing out Russian crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of 2022.

“We agree with this sanction, but are saying that we need a transitory period until we adapt to the situation,” Mr Sulik told a news briefing in Bratislava. “What is being discussed today is the duration of the transitory period, he added.

12:18 PM

Bulgaria to seek exemption from any EU embargo on Russian oil

Bulgaria will seek an exemption if the European Union agrees to allow exemptions on any embargo on Russian oil, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said today.

“Bulgaria, technologically, can do without Russian oil crude, but that would push up fuel prices significantly. So, if the European Commission considers exemptions, we would like to take advantage of such exemptions,” he told the financial newspaper Capital.

12:08 PM

UK bans services exports to Russia and sanctions Russian media outlets

Britain has banned all service sector exports to Russia and announced sanctions against 63 individuals and organisations, including media companies and celebrities it accuses of spreading disinformation.

“Doing business with Putin’s regime is morally bankrupt and helps fund a war machine that is causing untold suffering across Ukraine,” Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said in a statement.

“Cutting Russia’s access to British services will put more pressure on the Kremlin and ultimately help ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”

11:58 AM

Scholz says Ukraine must help mend ties with Germany

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there was a “problem” in Germany’s relations with Ukraine after the German president was stopped from visiting Kyiv last month, adding that it was up to Ukraine to help resolve the row.

“It is a problem for the German government and for the German people that the president was asked not to come,” Mr Scholz told reporters following talks with his cabinet.

“Ukraine must also play its part,” Mr Scholz said when asked how the tensions could be defused, but he did not give concrete examples on what Kyiv could do to improve the situation.

11:48 AM

Mariupol mayor says heavy fighting under way at Azovstal steel plant

The mayor of Mariupol said there was heavy fighting today at the Azovstal steel works where the city’s last defenders and some civilians are holding out.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on national television that contact had been lost with the Ukrainian fighters still in the sprawling steel works and that more than 30 children were among those awaiting evacuation from the plant.

11:34 AM

Missile strikes blow up Lviv power stations while oil depot targeted in Donetsk

11:25 AM

‘Disruptions’ to oil supply possible with EU Russia ban, says Germany

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that a gradual EU ban on Russian oil imports could lead to supply “disruptions” and price increases but backed the measure as necessary step to sanction Moscow.

“I have said a few times that we can of course not guarantee in this situation that there won’t be disruptions, primarily regional disruptions,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

He stressed, however, that Berlin backed the bloc’s measure as a response to the Ukraine invasion.

Mr Habeck, whose brief also includes energy policy, cited specifically the PCK refinery in the eastern town of Schwedt as one that could feel the impact.

It supplies around 90 per cent of the oil consumed in Berlin and the surrounding region, including Berlin-Brandenburg international airport.

Russian oil giant Rosneft, controlled by the Kremlin, is a majority shareholder in the site – a complicated situation Mr Habeck said would have to be “resolved politically”.

11:11 AM

Ukraine says Russia planning WWII parade in Mariupol

Ukraine has accused Russia of planning to hold a military parade in the captured city of Mariupol on May 9 to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.

Kyiv said an official from Russia’s presidential administration had arrived in the strategic southern port city, which has been largely destroyed in Russia’s more than two-month invasion of Ukraine, to oversee plans for the Victory Day parade.

“Mariupol will become a centre of ‘celebration,'” Ukraine’s military intelligence said in a statement on social media.

“The central streets of the city are urgently being cleaned of debris, bodies and unexploded ordnance,” it added.

“A large-scale propaganda campaign is underway. Russians will be shown stories about the ‘joy’ of locals from meeting the occupiers,” the military intelligence statement said.

11:03 AM

Kremlin denies Russian assault on Azovstal steelworks

The Kremlin said that Russia was not storming the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, after Ukraine accused Moscow of launching a “powerful” assault on the industrial zone where Kyiv’s forces are holed up.

“The order was publicly given by the supreme commander-in-chief to cancel the assault,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to an order given by Vladimir Putin last month not to pursue an attack on the area.

“There is no storming,” Mr Peskov added.

10:52 AM

Steelmaker to evacuate staff from Avdiivka plant after 10 killed in shelling

Ukraine’s largest steelmaker, Metinvest, said it had offered to evacuate staff from its coking plant in the eastern frontline city of Avdiivka after 10 workers were killed in Russian shelling.

The workers were killed at a bus stop on Tuesday as they waited for a bus to take them home after they finished their shift at the factory.

“Despite difficult logistics and hostile shelling, the Metinvest Group is ready to evacuate all employees and members of their families who wish to leave the dangerous place,” Metinvest said in a statement.

It added that 20 people had also been wounded in an attack that gave the victims no time to return to the plant’s bomb shelters which are equipped with drinking water, medicines and generators.

Metinvest said it was carrying out a process of “conservation” at the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, the largest coke producer in Ukraine, and that it had minimised the number of staff working on the plant’s industrial sites.

Specialists continue to work to ensure the storage of industrial facilities, it said.

10:44 AM

Kremlin dismisses speculation Putin to declare war on Ukraine on May 9

The Kremlin has dismissed speculation that Vladimir Putin plans to declare war against Ukraine and a national mobilisation on May 9 when Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory in World War Two.

Commenting on speculation that Putin will declare war against Ukraine on May 9, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “There is no chance of that. It’s nonsense.”

Putin is set to deliver a speech on May 9 and oversee a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square.

10:40 AM

Kremlin says no agreement on possible meeting between Putin and Pope Francis

The Kremlin said that no agreement had been reached on a possible meeting between Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis for talks on Ukraine.

Pope Francis said in an interview published on Tuesday that he had asked for a meeting in Moscow with Putin to try to stop the war in Ukraine but had not received a reply.

10:28 AM

Ukraine says it is ‘ready’ if Belarus joins Russian war effort

Kyiv will be ready if Belarus’s armed forces join Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, a spokesman for the Ukrainian State Border Service said today.

Belarus, a close ally of Russia, said its military had begun large-scale drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness and that they posed no threat to its neighbours.

“We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine,” said Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s State Border Service.

“Therefore, we are ready,” he said, adding that the border with Belarus had been strengthened since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

10:17 AM

EU clears $11.6 billion German scheme for companies hit by sanctions

EU competition regulators have approved an 11 billion euro ($11.58 billion) German scheme to help companies hit by sanctions against Russia, similar to those proposed recently by other EU governments.

Under the German scheme, companies can secure loans covered by a state guarantee not exceeding 90 per cent of the loan amount or receive loans at reduced interest rates to cover their investment and working capital needs.

“This umbrella scheme will enable Germany to mitigate the economic impact of Putin’s war in Ukraine and to further support companies across sectors affected by the current crisis and the related sanctions,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The European Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer for the 27-country European Union, recently loosened its state aid rules to allow EU governments to aid companies disrupted by the sanctions.

10:00 AM

Oil store burns in Donetsk

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO /REUTERS

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO /REUTERS

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - AP

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – AP

09:44 AM

Russia bans Japan’s PM

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it has banned entry to several dozen Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after Tokyo joined international sanctions against Moscow over its military campaign in Ukraine.

“The administration of F. Kishida launched an unprecedented anti-Russian campaign (and) allows unacceptable rhetoric against the Russian Federation, including slander and direct threats,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“It is echoed by public figures, experts, representatives of Japanese media, who are completely engaged by the attitudes of the West towards our country,” the ministry added.

It accused Tokyo of taking “practical steps aimed at dismantling good neighbourly ties, damaging the Russian economy and the international prestige of the country”.

The ministry said it was “indefinitely” banning from Russia 63 Japanese citizens, including the prime minister, cabinet members, lawmakers, journalists and professors.

09:26 AM

Russia threatens to destroy Nato vehicles

Nato vehicles with weapons and ammunition for Ukrainian troops that arrived in Ukraine will be destroyed, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

“The United States and its Nato allies continue to pump weapons to Ukraine. I note that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or materiel for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction,” Mr Shoigu said at a conference call, according to reports in the Russian media outlet RIA.

09:07 AM

Ukraine conflict in pictures

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - GENYA SAVILOV /AFP

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – GENYA SAVILOV /AFP

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - STRINGER/REUTERS

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – STRINGER/REUTERS

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - GENYA SAVILOV /AFP

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – GENYA SAVILOV /AFP

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO /REUTERS

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO /REUTERS

08:48 AM

Europe’s ‘duty’ to support Moldova: EU chief Michel

European Council President Charles Michel has offered Europe’s support to Moldova during a visit to the country bordering Ukraine that has seen a string of attacks in a Moscow-backed separatist region.

“The EU stands in full solidarity with you, with Moldova, it is our European duty to help and to support your country,” Mr Michel said during a press conference with Moldovan President Maia Sandu.

“This year we plan to significantly increase our support to Moldova by providing its armed forces with additional military equipment.”

Tensions are rising in Moldova, which shares a 760-mile border with Ukraine and fears are mounting that the country may find itself next in Russian crosshairs.

Our correspondent Jmaes Kilner travelled to the country and sent this dispatch.

08:24 AM

Moscow says Israeli ‘mercenaries’ fighting in Ukraine

A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry has claimed Israeli mercenaries were fighting alongside the far-right Azov Regiment in Ukraine, further fuelling tensions with Israel after Russia suggested Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood”.

“Israeli mercenaries are practically shoulder to shoulder with Azov militants in Ukraine,” Maria Zakharova told pro-Kremlin Sputnik radio in an interview.

Azov rose to prominence in 2014, when its far-right activists took up arms to fight pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region but have since fallen under the command of Ukraine’s military.

They have been fighting alongside the Ukrainian army against Russian troops, which on February 24 launched a military campaign in the pro-Western country.

Its members are part of the Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol, holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant against which Russian forces launched a major assault on Tuesday.

08:14 AM

Russia says it disables Ukrainian railway stations used to transport Western weapons

Russia’s defence ministry has said that it had disabled six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with Western-made weapons in the country’s east.

The ministry said it disabled the railways stations by bombing their power supplies using high-precision air and sea-based weapons. It did not say which Western-made weapons were supplied to Ukrainian forces via those stations.

Reuters could not immediately verify the statement and there was no immediate reaction from Kyiv.

The ministry also said it had hit 40 Ukrainian military targets, including four depots storing ammunition and artillery weapons.

07:47 AM

Belarus launches ‘surprise’ military manoeuvres

Belarus, a Moscow ally that shares a border with Ukraine, launched “surprise” military manoeuvres today, to test the reactive capacity of its army, its defence ministry said.

Belarus military units were testing their capacity to “go on the alert, move to predetermined zones and undertake combat training,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The aim is to evaluate the readiness and ability of troops to react rapidly to a possible crisis,” it continued, describing the manoeuvres as a “surprise” exercise.

It published photos of columns of vehicles, including tanks, moving along roads.

The exercise will be closely watched by Kyiv, which has repeatedly accused Belarus of planning to send troops into Ukraine to help Russia’s military operation against its pro-Western neighbour.

07:32 AM

Hungary, Slovakia can continue to buy Russian crude oil until end of 2023

Hungary and Slovakia will be able to continue buying Russian crude oil until the end of 2023 under existing contracts, an EU source told Reuters, benefitting from exemptions from an oil embargo proposed by the European Commission.

The EU executive has proposed to ban imports of Russian crude oil within six months, and refined oil products by the end of the year.

In a bid to convince reluctant countries not to veto the proposal, Brussels has proposed a longer period to implement the embargo for Hungary and Slovakia, the source said.

07:08 AM

EU to ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters

The European Union will ban three Russian state-owned broadcasters as part of a sixth sanctions package over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the bloc’s chief executive has said.

“They will not be allowed to distribute their content anymore in the European Union, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg.

She called the TV channels “mouthpieces that amplify (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively”.

“We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies,” she added.

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live  - JULIEN WARNAND/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock 

ukraine news russia war putin nuclear latest lviv mariupol live – JULIEN WARNAND/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock

06:52 AM

EU leader calls for Russian oil ban in new set of sanctions

The European Union’s leader has called on the 27-nation bloc to ban oil imports from Russia in a sixth package of sanctions targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also proposed that Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks be disconnected from the SWIFT international banking payment system.

Ms von der Leyen, addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, called on the EU’s member nations to phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets,” Ms von der Leyen said.

The proposals need to be unanimously approved to take effect and are likely to be the subject of fierce debate. Ms von der Leyen conceded that getting all 27 member countries – some of them landlocked and highly dependent on Russia for energy supplies – to agree on oil sanctions “will not be easy.”

06:36 AM

Russia builds up forces near Izium

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